How to craft a survey report and a digestible summary presentation

The data have been gathered and analyzed, and now you’re ready to deliver the goods. Make sure you provide actionable insights to go along with numbers and visual depictions.

Communicating survey results

Survey reporting isn’t a prescribed formula.

You must present your findings in a meaningful way that caters to the audience at hand. To do so, many communicators create a presentation and a report.

A presentation can provide need-to-know insights in a quick, informative way. Meanwhile, a report can provide analysis of statistics, methodology and executable actions.

How to create a survey presentation

This should deliver need-to-know information in an engaging and informative way. Think of it as the CliffsNotes version of your report. To accomplish this, here are some tips:

Start with a headline. What’s the most important piece of information in your findings? Start there, and trim that point into a succinct, newspaper-like headline. You may have several key points; just prioritize them. Each headline represents its own slide, to which you’ll add data and visuals.

Present insights, not data. People listening to your presentation are less interested in statistics and more interested in what the statistics mean. Let’s say a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) survey shows 72% of customers love your company’s new coat, but customers think it’s overpriced. You investigate and see most comparable products are $10 less than yours, but your coat keeps customers warmer in lower temperatures. Rather than presenting the research data, focus on the insight: a marketing initiative that focuses on the coat’s ability to keep customers warmer, which justifies the additional cost. You can use supporting data, but the punchline should be the resulting action.

Get visual. Though insights are the main course, data are an important side dish. A presentation full of numbers and charts is a snooze fest, so share the insight and provide supporting data visually. Yes, a bar graph is technically visual, but consider adding motion. Maybe each bar rises as you talk about it, for example. You might also use product images, infographics, memes and short videos.

Keep it short. Informative yet quick—that’s solid survey reporting. Presentations help showcase results, but focus on vital insights and takeaways. Your report will provide deeper information.

Tips to create a survey report

For the most effective survey reporting, present your findings in a more official, detailed way. Your colleagues will reference the report after your presentation to get a better handle on data collected, methodology and resulting actions. Here are some tips to create a must-read report:

Start with a structured plan. Survey reporting can be cumbersome, so break it down into useable pieces of information. To start, figure out how you’ll structure your report. Many reports follow this structure:

  • Title page: Provide the survey title, date, and quick description.
  • Table of contents: Give a list of everything that’s in the report.
  • Executive summary: Summarize the report and its findings. Make sure it’s polished. Some people read only the summary.
  • Background: Explain why you launched the survey and what you plan to do with results.
  • Survey method: Explain who was included in the study, target audience, contact method, etc.
  • Survey results: This is the main body, which provides important statistics and actions that should be taken.
  • Appendices: Provides supporting material including the actual survey and glossary of terms.

Prioritize and visualize. Your report will include a lot of statistics; prioritize them. Once you have a ranked your findings, you must visualize them. Reuse some presentation visuals in your report—keeping delivery in mind. If the report is being delivered digitally, include interactive graphs or short videos. If it’s printed, stick with charts and graphs.

Provide actionable intel for each department. Your report should include specific actions for particular departments. For example, if the survey examined customer satisfaction with ticket resolutions, the results could affect customer service, marketing and IT. Let’s say the results encouraged the company to launch a live chat feature on their website. The change requires training for customer service reps, customer education via the marketing department, and website integration assistance from IT. If survey results concern a certain department, spell it out in the results section.

Proofread and tighten. A survey report is beefy. Before you release it, check it for grammar and punctuation, and have at least two other people proof it, too. In addition to looking for basic errors, see where you can tighten the language. It’s easy to get wordy; don’t use five words when three will do. Make sure each data set and explanation is as succinct as possible.

A version of this post first appeared on the Get Feedback blog.

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